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High tides cause drain breaches; water still flooding a wide area

High tides caused breaching of drains, which have inundated hundreds of villages in Mirpurkhas, Badin, and Thatta districts. Besides, major towns like Pangrio, Jhudo, Malkani Sharif, Dighri and a large number of villages in Mirpurkhas, and more than 500 villages in Badin district have come under the water which is flowing towards the coastal areas. The government has stopped the flow of the main irrigation canals to avoid further loss, but the reports reaching here said the authorities could not plug the wide breaches in the drains.

A Badin district government spokesman claims there are 40592 people in all and 157 relief camps established in different towns, including district headquarters and they are providing them food, safe water. the water is flowing continuously.

Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority (Sida) spokesman said they did not have access to these breaches so far to plug the same to avoid further losses. He said, since the water flow is beyond expectations, we could not press machines into service to stop it. He claims the breaches to LBOD were reported from three points and destruction of small canals in Badin and Mirpurkhas districts had inundated wide areas. However, local activists say the LBOD alone had 40 breaching due to high tides and caused breaches in other drains. They said wide areas of the coastal zone in Badin and Thatta districts had been affected and water was still flowing to the areas and may affect more villages, because no steps had been taken thus far to stop the flow.

Initial reports say the Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD) breached from seven different places, inundating wide areas, caused houses and crops damages, but later it received 40 breaches. Besides other areas, breaching to LBOD from RD-1, near Jati, affected 20 villages in Thatta coastal areas. People were reluctant to leave their houses, taking the plea that they were safe. Local activists tried to convince them to avoid any loss and shift their families but they refused and living in a vulnerable situation.

Senior fishermen had already pointed out that since this is the season of high tides, which might turn to disastrous as major drains like LBOD, Dhoro Puran Outfall Drain (DPOD), Kadhan Pateji Outfall Drain (KPOD) and Tidal Link, carrying waste and rain water stream to the sea. They said due to high tides the sea will not receive drains water, which in result caused breaching to these artificial drains, inundating wide areas, mostly located close to these drains. It is the same situation the people from the affected areas witnessed in 2003.

There is no exact data of the economic loss and the status of relief camps with the district government Badin. When The News contacted District Coordination Officer (DCO) Khadim Jatoi, he said that they were busy receiving Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday, who is coming to visit the affected areas. Reports gathered by The News through different sources say the government functionaries, despite tall claims, were busy dealing with the provincial government instead of extending helping hand to rescue the stranded families. There are also reports that the Badin district government was reluctant to coordinate with the NGOs, which wanted to start rescue operation and set up relief camps. The police have taken vehicles of Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), which were operating to bring boats and rescuing people shifting them to safer places. Similar complaints raised by other NGOs, whose vehicles were taken by the district police without any reason.

The loss to hundreds of families living on the isolated islands located distantly from Keti Bunder and Kharo Chhan is another phenomenon. The reports reaching here say that they have almost lost all their belongings while their poor shelters collapsed due to strong winds with heavy rains and then high tides hit their poor shelters. They do not have ration, fuel wood and even the rain water washed away dried fish, which was the valuable asset these people take while in emergency. They are already living in vulnerable conditions on the islands.

The flooding drain water has also destroyed hundreds of fish farms in the coastal areas and fishermen, talking shelter at different places were seen busy in catching farm fish.